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Timely rain this week has brought a reprieve, at least temporarily, to the high to very high fire danger the state had been experiencing last weekend and early this week. Burning permits were periodically suspended in numerous counties. In the past week, 123 wildfires burned 142 acres in DNR protection areas around the state. This is wildfire prevention week and to mark the event DNR launched a new "live status wildfire occurrence" map on the DNR website.
Despite the rain, many parks and forests are now reporting that mountain bike and even some horse trails are open for use but additional rain in the forecast could change that status, so as always call ahead to confirm that trails are open.
Ice is now off almost all but the largest lakes in the Northwoods, with some ice still reported on Trout Lake in Vilas County. The walleye spawning season has been going very quickly and the musky are just now beginning to show up in the shallows. Perch also are in the midst of their spawning ritual. Angling pressure on northern lakes has been generally light, with just a few sucker and panfish anglers out trying their luck.
The 2016 lake sturgeon run on the Lake Winnebago System has been progressing rapidly. The run has been very intense and condensed into a short time period. Fisheries biologists think this year will likely go down as one of the shortest spawning runs on record. DNR survey crews have found a number of fish larger than 75 inches in total length, with the largest fish being 81.7 inches.
Sturgeon spawning on the Wolf River at New London earlier this week.
Photo Credit: DNR
Anglers took advantage of the nice calm weather this weekend out on Green Bay and Lake Michigan and were out in high numbers trolling close to shore for brown trout and walleye. Southeastern Lake Michigan harbors and piers had high fishing pressure over the weekend with anglers catching some brown trout. Tributaries have cleared up from last week and most were running clear. Steelhead fishing was still good on the Sheboygan and Root rivers.
The spring turkey season is off to a great start with hunters doing well during the early periods with plenty of gobbling and turkey breeding activity. An 800-pound bull elk was seen at the Flambeau River Forest this week with an 8-inch velvet antler growth already. Cow elk are searching for that perfect calving spot and deer does are busy chasing last year's fawns away preparing for this year's fawns. There has already been a report of a doe with three fawns in Columbia County.
Migratory bird conditions and numbers have been steadily improving over the past week with white-throated and chipping sparrows arriving in force and yellow-rumped, pine, and palm warblers reported statewide. Belted kingfishers, woodpeckers and phoebes are building nests, while common ravens and great horned owls fledging young and bald eagle chicks hatching. Soon, more than 200 species of birds will be nesting across the state! Join our massive statewide citizen project by contributing observations of nesting birds to the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas wsobirds.org/atlas (exit DNR).
Chorus frogs are vocalizing along with spring peepers. Black rat snakes and brown or Dekay's snakes were on the move during the warm weather. Snapping and painted turtles have been seen crossing roads. Spring wildflowers in bloom include trout lily, hepatica, Virginia waterleaf, bloodroot, violets, and spring beauty.
This coming weekend will be the best opportunity for people to celebrate Earth Day with 14 Work*Play*Earth Day events scheduled at state park and other properties across the state.
Fire danger has been a mixed bag this week: High to Very High across the state when the weather was dry and Low to Moderate when rains fell. Burning permits were periodically suspended in numerous counties. In the past week, 123 wildfires burned 142 acres in DNR protection areas around the state. The largest fire burned 37 acres in Portage County - cause was debris burning. Precipitation this time of year only alleviates fire danger for a short time, particularly on our sandy soils. To stay aware of the day's fire danger, check our web page dnr.wi.gov (keyword fire) or call 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876). Fire danger and burning permit information is updated daily at 11 a.m.
Firewise Tips: Be extra careful when working or playing outdoors. Do not leave your car, all-terrain vehicle, or farm equipment idling over dry grass or cornfields. Hot exhaust systems can start a wildfire. Do not set a hot chain saw down on a pile of dry leaves - clear a spot down to the soil instead. Before welding, remove dead vegetation from the work area. If you're towing something, don't allow chains to drag on the road. Sparks generated by dragging chains can start a wildfire. - Joanne Ackerman, wildland urban interface coordinator, Madison
Statewide Birding Report
It's an exciting time to be a birder in Wisconsin as large numbers of early-season migrants are being seen across the state. Lake Superior birders had a spectacular flight of American robins, northern flickers, rusty blackbirds, common redpolls, and others on Friday, April 15 (ebird.org/ebird/wi/view/checklist?subID=S28970725 exit DNR). Numbers of dark-eyed juncos, American tree sparrows, and fox sparrows are waning, while white-throated and chipping sparrows have arrived in force. Yellow-rumped, pine, and palm warblers have been reported statewide, with expectations of black-and-white, Nashville, black-throated green and other warblers in southern and central Wisconsin this upcoming week. Other Neotropical migrants like Baltimore orioles and ruby-throated hummingbirds usually arrive around the first of May but keep an eye out now following any warm front with southerly winds. Other notable migrants seen recently include brown thrasher, eastern towhee, blue-gray gnatcatchers, both kinglets, and house wrens. Waterfowl migration is peaking across the north and likely past peak in the south. Thousands of Bonaparte's gulls are on the move now along Lake Michigan, inland lakes and flooded fields, and likely soon north to Lake Superior. Shorebird migration has also ramped up, dominated by both species of yellowlegs, pectoral sandpipers, some Amer. golden-plovers, and even a couple reports of American avocet and black-necked stilt. The first broad-winged hawks of the year arrived this past week - expect big numbers over the next two weeks as this common raptor returns from central and south American wintering areas. Sharp-shinned hawks and 10-plus other raptor species are also on the move this time of year. Nesting season is underway for many resident and early-arriving species. Great horned owls and common ravens are fledging young, bald eagle chicks are hatching, and the first Canada goose goslings were seen this week. Eastern phoebes, common grackles, American robins, belted kingfishers, and various woodpeckers are nest building. Trumpeter swans, mallards, red-tailed hawks, peregrine falcons, American crows, and other species are incubating eggs. And soon, more than 200 species of birds will be nesting across the state! Join our massive statewide citizen project by contributing your observations of nesting birds to the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas at wsobirds.org/atlas (exit DNR). Enjoy the migration! - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - The warm weather this past week is getting everybody in the mood for outdoor activities. Although the early trout season is well under way, the regular fishing season is just around the bend, opening on May 7 for many inland lakes and streams. According to the USGS flow rate data, the river is a bit below average but still suitable for good fishing. Although the spring steelhead run is pretty much done, fisherman are finding active fish biting as many fish are working their way back down stream to Lake Superior. Campers are starting to show up on the Brule River State Forest. This time of year is a perfect time to hit the woods in search for shed antlers that deer dropped over the winter. Visit the Brule River State forest home page and click the hiking link under the Activities and Recreation. - Edwin Koepp, visitor services associate
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - The waterfowl migration is in full swing. There is a great variety of ducks present including mallards, ring-necked ducks, wood ducks, hooded mergansers, blue-winged teal, green-winged teal, lesser scaup, red-breasted mergansers, redheads, bufflehead, shovelers, and goldeneye. Trumpeter and tundra swans are present. American bittern and horned grebes were sighted. gray-cheeked thrush, golden-crowned kinglet, and brown creepers are present. A golden eagle was sighted near West Refuge Road. A variety of sparrows are appearing. - Kristi Pupak, natural resources educator
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - With the ice cover now gone from most of our lakes for more than a week now, water temperatures have climbed into the upper 40s and this has really spurred on the spawning season for walleye. DNR fishery crews have been busy surveying walleye populations on many local waters and many crews are just now seeing their workload starting to ease up. The walleye spawning season has been going very quickly and the musky are just now beginning to show up in the shallows. As the water continues to warm, look for smallmouth bass and crappie to beginning their nesting activities and this will be followed by largemouth bass and bluegill as we progress into May. The musky spawning period will get into full gear when the water temp gets into the low 50-degree range, although a few fish have already been observed up in the shallows. In addition, as the water does warm into the low 50s, panfish will also move up shallow in greater numbers and especially in the dark-bottomed bays that get a lot of sun. Perch are also in the middle of their annual spawning ritual, with crappie beginning theirs as the water warms to the upper 50s and bluegill when the water hits the mid to upper 60s. Angling pressure on area waters has been generally light, with just a few sucker and panfish anglers out trying their luck. Panfish success has been fair, with a few nice crappie and bluegill being found in 3 to 5 feet of water in shallow, warm-water bays. Sucker fishing has also been fair with some decent catches of redhorse and white sucker coming from the deeper holes on the Flambeau and Chippewa rivers. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - The lakes and river water temperatures are still pretty cold. The redhorse are running and some river users are enjoying the capture. The docks will be put in the area lakes very soon. The juncos are flittering around the fields and roadways and the potholes and ponds are home to a variety of ducks. Swans, geese, sandhill cranes, and ducks of various species are just a few of the birds that have come north. Some of the flycatchers seem to be back. The grouse are still drumming, which is associated with their mating season. Gobbling tom turkeys and clucking hens are mating. Period B of the spring turkey hunt runs April 20-26 by permit only. Wood frogs, chorus frogs, and spring peepers are only a few of the critters out there that have been croaking a melodious virtuoso. An 800-pound bull elk was seen this week with an 8-inch velvet antler growth already. The cow elk are searching for that perfect calving spot and deer does are busy chasing last year's fawns away preparing for this year's fawns. So be careful when driving, the roads are full of young dumb deer and lots of other critters. The bugs are not out yet, so it is one of the best times of year to hike. Be sure to wear water boots as the woods have yet to dry out completely. Some folks have been taking advantage of the bugless weather and good water level on the Flambeau River and paddling down river and using the scenic river sites for camping and day-use. ATV/UTV trails are closed until May 16. Lake of the Pines Campground is open on a first come first serve basis. It is a rustic, quiet and very well maintained campground. It is located on a bluff overlooking Lake of the Pines. Earth Day is April 22, a good time to volunteer at the forest and help maintain and clean up a little of Wisconsin. - Diane Stowell, visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Oneida and Vilas counties - Blue-winged teal, greater yellowlegs and a few yellow-rumped warblers have shown up in our area in the past few days. Geese are starting to nest. Eagle chicks will be hatching soon. DNR staff are beginning to get reports of dead pine siskins, goldfinches and redpolls near landowner bird feeders in the area. This is the time of year when cases of salmonella break out at birdfeeders. Some birds have just migrated long distances and are more susceptible to stresses and disease. Here are some simple tips to prevent or minimize problems at feeders this spring: keep areas around feeders clean of seed hulls and spilled seed; disinfect feeders using a 10 percent bleach solution; replace water in birdbaths every few days; move feeders occasionally to prevent buildup of wastes; if sick or dead birds are observed near feeders, discard all seed and give feeders a thorough cleaning. For more information, visit our website; search for key word "Bird diseases" or see this February 2007 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine story. - Michele Woodford, wildlife biologist, Woodruff
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - Quickly rising temperatures brought an end to the heavy snow of the week before. Wood frogs and peepers were extremely happy and many songbirds are making their way north. Flocks of juncos are searching for food along with fox and tree sparrows. Geese, ducks, swans and tree swallows are all defending their territories. There are already loons and great blue herons on many of the lakes. Trailing arbutuses are starting to bloom on sunny slopes and hepatica is starting to show its lovely white and lavender flowers. Some trees are quickly starting to bloom as if trying to make up for lost time. It is a great time to be exploring out in the woods looking for the spring ephemerals and listening to grouse drumming. Water levels on lakes and streams on the Northern Highland state Forest have stabilized recently. There is more water in local lakes than the previous 16 years. Trout Lake Sports Fish Restoration crews along with NH-AL Staff have begun to install boarding docks. Ice will dissipate from lakes on the southern portion of the forest first, which is why we start to install docks there first. There are still lakes with ice like Trout Lake but most lakes will be ice free in a few days. Lakes with boarding docks installed include Big Bearskin, Big Carr, McGrath, Hasbrook, Dorothy, Hodstradt, and North Nokomis. We currently install 51 docks so the process takes about three weeks. We seldom have them all installed by fishing opener but generally complete the list by the week after opener. All locations that had a boarding dock on the NH-Al SF last year will have one this year, so we ask your patience which is appreciated. Campground crews have begun our spring cleaning of toilet facilities, roads, and campsites. Please be patient, as it will take a few weeks to get through all 18 of our campgrounds. Early season campers will find campgrounds in varying states of readiness for the season depending on whether crews have made it to that campground or not. Clear Lake, Crystal Lake, Firefly Lake, Musky Lake, Big Lake, Carrol Lake, Indian Mounds, North Trout Lake, Razorback Lake, and West Star Lake Campgrounds are all currently open to campers and snow free. We hope to have all four shower buildings on the forest open by Friday, May 6. Firewood permit holders are reminded that their time to harvest downed trees in the campgrounds on the forest is running out, with April 30 being the last day they are allowed to harvest wood this spring. From May 1-October 31 only registered campers are allowed to collect downed trees in the campgrounds and chainsaw use is not allowed in campgrounds during that time period. - Kimberly Krawczyk, Visitor Services Associate
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
This report is for the week of April 10-16. Warmer weather in the later part of last week has warmed water temperatures in the rivers past the magic mark of 42 degrees. Angling pressure at the Dam's on the Oconto, Peshtigo, and Menominee Rivers has started to decline as anglers are moving toward the river mouth and Bay in search of hungry walleye and pike.
Marinette County - Suckers are the prevailing species at the dam in Peshtigo, so most anglers have moved to the mouth of the Peshtigo River, both shore anglers and boaters alike. As with the Oconto River catch rates are low compared to the amount of effort. Little River boat anglers are still catching some very nice brown trout and the occasional walleye fishing in 6 to 12 feet of water, trolling north and south of the Boat landing. Stick baits and spoons have been working the best. Shore anglers on the Menominee River are still catching some walleye and trout from the Hattie Street Dam to Stephenson Island using jigs, spoons, and stick baits. Boaters on the Menominee River are reporting low catch rates of walleye trolling and jigging the mouth of the river and Bay. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Fishing pressure has been heavy from the Oconto Municipal Landing to the mouth of the Oconto River. Shore anglers are reporting rather low catch rates at this time. Those fish being caught are biting on a variety of baits, including jig and minnows, jigs and plastics, zip lures, spoons, and stick baits. The boat landings at Municipal Landing, Oconto Breakwater Park, and Oconto Park II have been packed with anglers fishing for pike, walleye, and trout. Boaters are fishing in 6 to 10 feet of water using zip lures, and jigs tipped with plastics or minnows. Many anglers are trolling with spoons and stick baits. Catch rates have been low considering the number of anglers and the amount of effort (hours) being expended. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - With the temperatures on the rise in turn so was the fishing pressure on the Fox River. Many people were out enjoying the warm weather this past weekend. Catch rates were also on the rise with people having some success at Voyager Park from shore and from boats. The lure of choice were crank baits in an assortment of colors. Anglers were also showing good success with the bigger fish, with 14 legal fish being caught on Saturday morning. Fishing pressure was also high at the Suamico River launch with anglers trying their luck on the Bay of Green Bay. Anglers were pulling planar boards and marking quite a few fish on their electronics but the fish would not cooperate, which resulted in low catch totals. Anglers were reporting water temperatures in the bay between 45 to 49 degrees. With the warm weather many people took to Duck Creek to enjoy the water with the use of their kayaks, but no interviews were taken.
During the week days fishing pressure was light at Bayshore Park. Most anglers were slow trolling crank baits for walleyes. Catch rates were decent. Water temperatures were reported at about 36 degrees. Near shore water clarity was between 1-2 feet at Bayshore Park. - Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Door County - Many anglers took advantage of the nice weather and were out trolling from Murphy Park down to the flats in the canal. Those fishing from shore at Stone Quarry reported catching walleye and brown trout from the wall and the break wall using spoons or stick baits. Many anglers were launching from Sawyer Park this weekend while some headed to the lake and others stayed in the canal trolling. Walleyes have been reported caught near Henderson Point trolling with deep diving crank baits in about 25-35 feet of water. Walleye anglers are reporting their best success around dusk. A few anglers have reported catching northern pike from the piers in Fish Creek and Ephraim on bright colored spoons and spinner baits. The rivers in Door County (Heins, Hibbards, Shivering Sands, Whitefish Bay Creek) continue to have a good flow and good water clarity. A few steelhead were reported caught on Heins and Hibbards Creeks using spawn sacs in pools and deeper log jams. - Lucas Koenig, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Brown trout anglers launching and heading north from Chaudoir's Dock had mixed results. Successful walleye anglers were slow trolling crank baits. While the majority of walleye caught seemed to be in the 20-24 inch range, a few larger ones (28 inches and above) were landed. Water temperatures remain relatively cold, with most parts remaining in the mid to high 30s. Fishing pressure was light and water clarity, just off the pier, was close to five feet. Fishing pressure on Sawyer Harbor was light. Most fishing boats were trolling for walleye. Catch rates were modest. Water temperatures were between 36-41 degrees. Water clarity was more than five feet near shore. The Piers at the Potawatomi Park and Idlewild boat launches have not been put in. The Potawatomi Park piers are expected to go in sometime in early May. Walleye anglers launching on to Little Sturgeon Bay had hit or miss results. Slow trolling in late evenings, and at night, produced the best bite. Northern Pike anglers heading out from the Carmody Boat launch did fairly well. A few limits were taken. Fishing pressure was high during the weekend, with boaters needed to use the overflow lot. Near shore water clarity was between 4-5 feet. Water temperatures were reported in the mid-30 to low-40 degree range. - Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Kewaunee County - Anglers took advantage of the nice calm weather this weekend out on the lake and were out in high numbers trolling close to shore for brown trout. Late in the week anglers were doing well close to shore with limits for browns being reported, but action seemed to slow over the weekend with low numbers being reported off the lake on Sunday. Anglers off the pier reported low numbers of catches during the week and a tough bite over the weekend, with a few follows from brown trout reported. The water clarity is good off the pier. Not many anglers were seen accessing the Ahnapee River this weekend but many anglers are still fishing at Stoney Creek concentrating their efforts at the Highway U crossing. Fishing pressure has increased over the past week due to the recent spike in warm temperatures and mild winds. Boats have been catching small brown trout trolling the shoreline, having the most success during the early morning hours. Anglers were catching most fish in less than 15 feet of water on shallow diving crank baits. Water temperatures on the Kewaunee River have dramatically increased over the weekend and water has become very clear. Suckers are currently very abundant around Footbridge area with the majority of anglers catching multiple suckers with little effort. A few anglers are having luck sight fishing for steelhead using a variety of fly presentations or spawn sacs. The majority of steelhead have been spawned out as the run begins to wind down. - Lucas Koenig, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Manitowoc County - The warm weather has more anglers out on the water and finding fish. People fishing on the lake are catching browns out of Two Rivers and Manitowoc harbors. A few browns are being caught in the harbors along with a few steelhead, catfish and carp. The suckers are running strong in most places. There are still steelhead upstream in the rivers. Many can be seen jumping at the dams but coaxing one to bite has been difficult. - Ben Thome, fisheries technician, Mishicot
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Governor Thompson State Park - The 16-mile hiking trail system is open. Now is a great time to see the rock formations before the trees leaf out. We are starting to see the return of the geese and cranes. On warm days you can hear the chorus frogs, wood frogs and spring peepers near the wetlands. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Peninsula State Park - Hiking Trails are open. Trails may be muddy in certain areas. Bike trails are open. The orange loop of the interior mountain bike trail system does have standing water and that section will be closed until further notice. Nicolet Bay Boat Launch - The loading docks are installed for the 2016 season. - Jane Barnowsky, visitor services associate
Potawatomi State Park - The entire south loop of the campground is open for camping. Water has been turned on at the campground wells, fish cleaning station, sanitary dump station. The shower building will open by May 1. With the recent sunny, warm weather, the trails have dried out. All hiking and biking trails are open. Some fishermen have had luck fishing for walleye at night. The launch piers should be in the water by early May, depending on repairs. - Lois M. Hanson, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Bluebirds and tree swallows both back and checking out nest boxes. Asparagus just poking out of the ground in the last day or two. Walleyes reportedly arriving back in pool lakes and biting well. Sturgeon suspected of being done spawning by the weekend. Water levels dropping on both the Fox and Wolf Rivers. Many anglers making use of the early catch and release trout season, streams look perfect for fishing right now. No reports of any morels yet. Looks like a good forecast for the weekend. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
The 2016 lake sturgeon run on the Lake Winnebago System has been progressing rapidly. The run has been very intense and condensed into a short time period. April 20 was a big day below the Shawano Paper Mill Dam and three crews were able to handle 625 lake sturgeon, including a number of very large fish. There were a number of fish larger than 75 inches in total length, with the largest fish being 81.7 inches. Today was an extreme example of how short this run has been shaping up to be. The fish were spawning very hard early this morning but had slowed down drastically by day's end. The Shawano Dam likely holds the best chance of seeing spawning fish. This year will likely go down as one of the shortest spawning runs on record. - Ryan Koenigs, Winnebago System sturgeon biologist, Oshkosh
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Milwaukee County - Spring turkey season hunters are doing well during the early periods. Chorus frogs are in full roar, with wood frogs and spring peepers out and singing as well. We are also starting to see snakes and turtles sunning themselves on the non-rainy days. A walk through the woods will also show you blooming spring beauty, trout lily, and hepatica, and the growth of mayapple, wild onion, and Virginia waterleaf. With the warm weather we've seen a rush of migratory songbirds passing through the Milwaukee area, such as hermit thrush, yellow-rumped warblers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, savannah sparrows, and swamp sparrows. Join a DNR Wildlife Biologist on a Birding Hike at Havenwoods State Forest on Saturday, April 30 at 9 a.m. Contact Dianne Robinson at Dianne.Robinson@wisconsin.gov or at 262-424-9827 for more information. There has also been an increase in the number of young animal sightings, including fox, coyote, raccoon, and squirrel kits. If you see any young wildlife, take pictures but please don't touch! If you think the young animals are injured or in danger, visit the DNR website, keword "Keep Wildlife Wild" or contact the DNR Customer Service Hotline for more information (1-888-936-7463). - Dianne Robinson, wildlife biologist, Waukesha
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - The Sheboygan and Pigeon rivers have cleared up from last week. Both rivers were in the lower 40s over the weekend. Steelhead fishing was very good on the Sheboygan River earlier in the week for fly fishermen. A few steelhead and many suckers could be seen in the Pigeon River over the weekend. The south pier in Sheboygan had high fishing pressure throughout the weekend; there were frequent hits from small, recently stocked brown trout, with some larger browns being caught in between. A couple large carp were also caught. Boat anglers on Saturday morning had good success catching browns and a few lake trout.
Ozaukee County - Sauk Creek is very clear and the water temperature has been in the lower 40s. There were a few anglers out over the weekend fishing for steelhead, but had low success. Steelhead can still be found near the waterfall by the nature preserve, but far more suckers are being seen throughout the creek. The nice weather brought out many anglers to the lakeshore this weekend. There were a couple large browns caught by the power plant discharge on spoons. The Army Corps of Engineers has started repairs on the breakwall of the north pier in Port Washington. Construction is projected to last until July 3.
Milwaukee County - Fishing pressure on the shoreline increased during the week with a nice stretch of warm sunny weather and temperatures in the upper 60's. Anglers have been catching brown trout (3-4 pound average) on spoons and crank baits in and around the Milwaukee Harbor. McKinley pier, Veterans Park, and the area behind the Summerfest grounds have all produced at times. The gates to the McKinley Marina docks were locked this week, and anglers no longer have access to the marina. Elsewhere in Milwaukee County, a few brown trout and rainbows were landed on the Grant Park shoreline by anglers fishing with spawn sacks on the bottom. In addition, on the Oak Creek Power Plant fishing pier anglers casting crank baits and jigs & plastic landed 6-7 coho and a couple of brown trout. Boats have been targeting brown trout in the Milwaukee harbor with crank baits and spoons. They averaged 2-3 browns per trip during the week, but the catch rate tapered off by Sunday. Trollers working off the Oak Creek Power Plant have taken browns and a few coho. Water levels have finally dropped on the Milwaukee River, and a few steelhead can still be found around Kletzsch Park. Egg pattern flies and wooly buggers have produced.
Racine County - Boats could be seen trolling fairly close to shore, both north and south of Racine and along the breakwater. The warm weather this weekend had quite a few anglers on the pier. A few coho, browns and rainbow were being caught, mostly in the morning. Most success was on the South Pier, but anglers reported success on previous days on the North Pier as well. Baits of choice included little cleo spoons, shiners under a bobber, and spawn sacs. The water temperature off the piers was at 45 degrees. Fishing pressure on the Root River increased with this weekend's pleasant weather. Quite a few steelhead were being caught, especially from above the Steelhead Facility all the way up to Horlick Dam, with reports of most of these fish being spawned out. A large push of large suckers has also been seen this week. Baits of choice included large streamer fly patterns, orange or yellow egg patterns, spinners, and spawn sacs. Water temperature started the week at 42 degrees and was up to 52 on Sunday. DNR crews processed fish at the Root River Steelhead Facility on Monday, April 11. It was the last processing day of the spring season, and the facility is now shut down until the fall salmon run. Over 870,000 Chambers Creek strain eggs and one million Ganaraska strain eggs were collected, and 1,293 steelhead were passed upriver this spring.
Kenosha County - A few boats were interviewed this week, and they reported limited success fishing around the bubbler. Only one coho salmon and one chinook salmon were seen caught, but the anglers who caught them reported losing a few others as well. Baits of choice were small crank baits and peanut flies. The water temperature was reported to be 44 degrees on the surface near the bubbler. Shore fishing was slow in the harbor area. Fishing pressure remained low on the Pike this weekend, as only one angler was interviewed. He had caught two steelhead and reported seeing few others but a lot of suckers. The bait of choice was spawn sacs under a bobber. The water temperature in the Pike was at 52F.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit - Thanks to continued dry conditions over the past couple weeks, the mountain bike and bridle trails are now open for the season. All trails in general are in very good condition, although there still are a few muddy stretches along the Tamarack and horse trails. New Prospect Horse Camp is open for first-come, first-served camping through April 28. The Mauthe Lake fishing pier and boat boarding dock were repaired over the winter and have been re-installed. The boat launch is now open. The Long Lake boat boarding dock has been installed and the launch is ready to go for the season. - Deb Harder, visitor services associate
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - Pike Lake wildlife staff have been out doing prescribed burning this week on Allenton and Jackson Marsh Wildlife Areas. One burn on Jackson was a stimulation burn for a prairie planting, and another small 5-acre burn on Allenton was a site prep. burn for a new oak/tree planting. The turkey season is in full swing with plenty of gobbling and turkey breeding activity. Turkeys seem overly abundant in the area, probably aided by the mild winter and good nesting conditions last year. Canoeing/kayaking conditions are great with moderately high water levels on local streams and rivers. Migratory bird viewing conditions are great along Highway 28 at Theresa Marsh, just west of Highway 41, with abundant migratory waterfowl, sand hill cranes, wading birds, and a pair of bald eagles seen in the area. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
South Central Region
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Wyalusing State Park - Mississippi River water levels at the boat landing are at normal levels. Fishing picked up this last week with walleyes and smallmouth bass. A pair of bluebirds is nesting by the park office. Other birds seen at the park include eagles, yellow shafted flickers, and Rufous-sided towhee. All trails are open and in good condition. Black rat snakes have been seen at the Knob shelter and brown snakes were also sighted. Flowers blooming in the park, Dutchman breeches, hepatica, bloodroot, violets, and spring beauty. Turkey season open with hunters filling their tags. The concession stand will open mother's day weekend. The Huser Astronomy Center is offering a Novice Astronomy program this year. There will be monthly meetings for the beginning astronomer. They will help you find the constellations, teach how to use telescopes and a lot more. Visitors can bring their own scope if they have one. First program is May 19 at 7:30. Facebook page now for groups https://www.facebook.com/groups/starsplittersofwyalusing. - Pam Dressler, visitor services associate
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - With all the recent rains, things are really greening up fast. First period turkey hunters experienced May-like conditions in the woods with many brush species already starting to leaf out. The first wood violets have been seen blooming. There was a report of a doe with three fawns being spotted. Woodcock are also being seen with young already. Snakes are out and active, and snappers and painted turtles can now be seen crossing roads. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette
West Central Region
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - Wild turkey hunters reported pretty good success during the first turkey hunting period. Warm and dry weather conditions created ideal hunting environments for gobblers. Rufous-sided or eastern towhees, yellow-rumped warblers, white-crowned sparrows, ruby-crowned kinglets, and savanna sparrows have moved into the area. Some brown or Dekay's snakes were on the move during the warm weather. Generally, these snakes exhibit a major migration from their winter hibernacula in late April. These small, docile snakes feed on worms, slugs, and snails and are preyed upon by shrews, weasels, cats, other snakes, and some birds. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Wausau DNR Service Center area
Marathon County - Rivers are close to normal levels. Suckers are running in the bigger systems. Blue Herons are building up nests on Rookery Island of Lake Wausau. - Randy Dunkel, conservation warden, Wausau
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Adams County - The turkeys are really responding to calls and many birds are being harvested. Small walleyes are continuing to bite on the river, but that few keepers are being caught. - Wade Romberg, conservation warden, Friendship
Buckhorn State Park - Sandhill cranes, osprey and spring peepers have been seen and heard around the park. Tom turkeys have been seen displaying to hens. Migrating birds have been seen around the bridge. The park and Buckhorn Wildlife Area are open for the first three turkey periods and is Zone 1. The accessible fishing pier and boat boarding piers are in at the park. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - Camping and the main gate are still closed. Please do not park in front of the gate. Parking is in the winter lot on Czech Ave and park stickers are still be required. - Heather Wolf, park manager